Review by Chris ‘Douggs’ McDougall
The first edition of The Great Book of Base hit the shelves in 2010. It was a great success with a broad range of base jumping information. This ranges from learning the basics to technical weather advice, as well as some great stories from prominent base jumpers, from the present and the past and everything in between, combined with stunning imagery throughout the book.
It was well written by its author Matt Gerdes (who is a highly experienced paraglider pilot and base jumper) with several stern warnings explaining the inherent dangers of base jumping and what will happen to you if you don’t make smart choices.
Base jumpers can never learn enough about the weather; it is critical to our survival.
For me personally this book was a great learning tool for teaching my students to prepare themselves for the big wide world of base jumping.
The second edition of ‘The Great Book of Base’ absolutely complements the first edition of the ‘Base Bible.’ Right from the first page you’re hit with a huge warning label that accurately describes how lethal this sport can be as well as a perfectly written foreword by the author himself.
##New for Edition 2
The layout is pretty much the same as previously, clear and concise with constructive side notes throughout but in this edition there is also bolder title font of each topic which I felt, although a subtle change, helped to emphasize each topic’s importance.
There is some extra information about pilot chutes and bridles and some more common sense information in the ethics chapter; something that I feel has been getting lost with today’s base jumper.
It was nice to see a small piece on Jeb Corliss as well. Whether you love him or hate him, the fact is that he has been going harder and longer than most jumpers out there and has helped push the sport into the mainstream whether you think it is a positive thing or not.
Some of the photos are the same as in the last edition but there are also some incredible new images that will get you amped up to go jump. (After you have finished reading the book of course)
There is a great technical piece by Richard Webb on low wingsuit jumps focusing around the Moab region but this information can be used for all wingsuit jumping around the world and the effort it takes to do it safely.
Once again the weather chapter is a ‘must read’ several times over. Base jumpers, including I, can never learn enough about the weather, especially in the big mountain regions; it is critical to our survival.
Towards the end of the book, a most noticeable difference is the sizable amount of technical information about wingsuit flying, terrain flying and alpine ascents. This area of our sport needs critical attention as it has caused over 90% of base jumping deaths in the last few years.
There is also a quality piece by Vincent Le Blonde (Descols) titled ‘Reflections on Safety’ and I feel it is a great way to finish the book.
The Appendix A through H ranges from being serious through entertaining to just downright funny, with more priceless advice from Dorkzone Hero who leaves no-one unscathed, including myself.
The entire book is perfectly broken up to keep the reader entertained throughout, so as to get through the dryer style reading of the technical and most important information.
Every base jumper and wannabe base jumper should read this book
I have found it almost impossible to make any constructive criticism for ‘The Great Book of Base’ but the only thing I think would’ve been a nice touch would be to list all the manufacturers that produce anything related directly to base jumping as well as the more formal Base jumping schools out there. This would help give the reader an opportunity to explore all avenues so as to make the most informative choices when selecting a base course and base gear – but this can easily be done via the internet also.
Every base jumper and wannabe base jumper should read this book as I can assure you that every single one of you out there will have learnt something after reading it.
Thankfully, it doesn’t teach you everything, so the reader is unable to go straight to an object and just jump, but it does give a great basis of understanding of what it takes to be a good safe base jumper and to live a long and healthy career in all aspects chosen in the sport.
For me personally, I will not teach anyone to base jump that hasn’t read ‘The Great Book of Base’ at least twice through. I also go over the entire book during my ten-day base course.
My rating: 9.5 out of 10 because I know the third edition will be even better!
The Great Book of BASE is available from Base-book.com
Update: Third edition of The Great Book of Base now published – reviewed here by Mara Lucien